The intent of the liturgical reform?

A reader sent this.

Would that this Pope were heeded — and would that he heeded his own advice!

Paul VI on Liturgical Reform

The proper implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy [Sacrosanctum Concilium] requires of you that the “new” and the “old” be brought together in a bond that is both suitable and beautiful. What must be avoided at all costs in this matter is that eagerness for the “new” exceed due measure, resulting in insufficient regard for, or entirely disregarding, the patrimony of the liturgy handed on. Such a defective course of action should not be called renewal of the Sacred Liturgy, but an overturning of it. The liturgy, in fact, displays a similarity to a hardy tree, the beauty of which shows a continual renewal of leaves, but whose fruitfulness of life bears witness to the long existence of the trunk, which acts through its deep and stable roots. In liturgical matters, therefore, no real opposition should occur between the present age and previous ages; but all should be done so that, whatever be the innovation, it be made to cohere and to concord with the sound tradition that precedes it, and so that from existing forms new forms grow, as through spontaneously blossoming from it.

Sent without citation.

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  1. asperges says:

    May of Pope Paul’s writing of this ilk are touching and beautiful, but unfortunately he was something of a Cassandra – told the truth but never listened to – and he remains, I think, one of the most enigmatic Popes of the 20th century. I am sure he was among the most tragic and must have suffered terribly to see the Church so badly out of control during his reign. Perhaps History will judge him more kindly than most do now.

  2. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    My opinion is that the leading sentence into the article is misleading and wrong to say that Paul VI intentionally let all this liberality in the Church unfold, especially in the liturgy. Rather the body of the text stands more for Paul VI. For starters, it was really John XXIII who said let’s do Vatican II, and Paul VI had to pick up the slack. If you read Fr. John W.O’Malley S.J’s “What Happened at Vatican II”, Paul VI’s approach to the council becamre more of an authoritative parent by the time the 4th session happened because it was running off the rails administratively (no key person being the final authority or leading the council sessions), vs. John XXIII’s approach which was more lassiez-faire and just let the council do whatever.

    In addition, I provide evidence into the contrary via one of Fr. Z’s WDTPRS posts for pentecost Monday:

    Look at the paragraph starting with “Many years ago.” Through a 2nd-hand account, Fr. Z found out Paul VI was actually saddened at what Vatican II allowed to do to the Church as seen in this snipit when he had to put on Ordinary Time vestments instead of that which he was used to for the octave of Pentecost. And that’s my $0.02.

  3. I’m sure I can find the quote within the Documents on the Liturgy compendium. I’ll snoop around when I get home.

  4. CatholicDRE says:

    We certainly need this connection to the past now. I just heard a story from a Music Director where a family wanted “I Will Always Love You” played at the funeral of their loved one. Without a firm grasp on the traditions of the Church we slip into “event coordinator” mode and do whatever we feel like in order to please ourselves.

  5. moon1234 says:

    The tree analogy seems very pertinent. When a diseased or damaged branch is found on the tree, it is up to the caretakers to cut it off so that disease and rot from the damaged branch does not kill the whole tree.

    From the base of the branch and the trunk will grow new leaves that draw their strength from the trunk and roots. Cut off the trunk and the whole tree dies.

  6. Sandy says:

    I looked back at the link “Y.C. RC Male” provided, and remember reading it previously, sadly. It caused one of the really clear flashbacks I have of those changes in that period. I was at a small church in VA where I was visiting and it was the very first Sunday that the “sign of peace” was introduced. It was a strange and not very pleasant feeling! It’s gone downhill from there!

  7. mrose says:

    While I try to remain charitable and assume good intentions toward these sorts of things (or rather, persons relating to these sorts of subjects), I have difficulty mustering sympathy or an “aww shucks” on behalf of the Church when I read about Paul VI’s sadness at having lost the Pentecost Octave. Regardless of the fact that Popes are burdened with many, many responsibilities, how dare he have not given the utmost attention to the promulgation of a (very) new Missal? We are to believe that he “meant well” even though he apparently signed off on promulgating a Missal whose Octaves he knew not? That is regrettable, to say the least.

    I want to, but find it hard to believe that Paul VI didn’t want to happen just what did happen, regarding the Council documents themselves, the atmosphere at the Council, and the “Reforms” following.

  8. paenitentia says:

    Has anyone been able to find a citation for this passage? If so, I for one would be very grateful to have it.

  9. Pachomius says:

    One rather good reason for holding Vatican II (or a Vatican II, anyway) which is virtually ignored, is that Vatican I never concluded, but had to be suspended indefinitely thanks to Napoleon’s invasion.

    I was looking at Comme le prevoit, the translation instruction of 1969, recently. There’s much that’s quite common-sense there, basically. Unfortunately, it’s phrased in such a way as to heavily weight itself toward being interpreted in the hack-it-out-dumb-it-down manner, and it’s quite clear that the people who read it at the time were fluff-brained clods, to say the least (just look at what 1975 ICEL did to the Gloria… “peace to his people on Earth”? Or EP3 – “East to West”? Ugh.)

    So I wonder if the problem was not Paul VI’s ideas, but that they were put into practice by people deeply lacking any sense of what the instructions meant, and uninterested in the question – people who brainlessly flumped along with a surface reading of the instructions. Take the “Gloria” again in the 75 ICEL translation. It’s had any and all repetition removed from it. I’m certain this is a (very stupid) piece of interpretation based on the words of the Council proper on liturgical reform, and probably highly indicative of what happened.

  10. trespinos says:

    Just saying… Even in what may be smoothed English, those sentences don’t sound like Paul VI’s. I will be surprised, and pleased, if a citation can be found.

  11. Maltese says:

    “The liturgy, in fact, displays a similarity to a hardy tree, the beauty of which shows a continual renewal of leaves, but whose fruitfulness of life bears witness to the long existence of the trunk.”

    Yes, dear poster, if organically grown. The new mass imposed under Bugnini is not a natural extension of the branch, as even then +Ratzinger said: it was a liturgy manufactured on the spot.

    The true “evolution” of the liturgy happens through the centuries, not during one modernist council in the 1960’s.

    What a decade to call a council! When the world was in turmoil with revolutionary ideas and ideals the Catholic Church called a revolutionary council!

  12. albinus1 says:

    That makes two of us. A quick Google search of the passage turned up only this blog entry, and entries on other blogs that reposted or cited this one.

  13. Many people keep saying that Paul VI is the most enigmatic and misundertood man … that people did things without him knowing, etc.

    How in the world do people get the Pope to say the Mass completely in the vernacular without him knowing it or doing something about it? What really killed Latin off was not that it was not required any longer, it was not that the conferences of Bishops had a lot of power, etc. It was that the Pope himself (especially since the Pope began to celebrate Mass much more frequently than before) stopped using Latin when saying Mass. Paul the VI was the first Pope to say Mass completely in Italian. This would not help in preserving Latin. To this very day, the Pope seems very reluctant to say Mass completely in Latin (even if it were the New Order) more frequently than maybe once a year … and that is a big maybe.

    Also, theologians who had been condemned under Pius XII and John XXIII were brought back and given important positions and places. How does this happen without the Pope knowing? He has to accept it.

    If the Order of the Mass as given in 1969 was not what the Council wanted, how come the Pope signed off on it and sealed it by saying Mass according to that Order?

    How can this be a “misunderstanding? or a “misjudgment”? How is this enigmatic?

    Sure, we can all say and even believe that he was misguided, that there was no malicious intent, but that he did not know or that he was misunderstood… that’s pushing it.

  14. asperges says:

    I used the word “enigmatic” of Paul VI because I think that is the best way to describe him: “a person, thing, or situation that is mysterious, puzzling, or ambiguous
    [from Greek ainigma, from ainissesthai to speak in riddles, from ainos fable, story]

    I think his reign was a disaster for the Church. He was weak and overruled by some very un-holy men yet it is clear from his writings that his own pre-dispositions were hardly revolutionary or unorthodox. History will judge him better at a distance that we can.

    One has to remember the Zeitgeist of those days after Vatican II: a deep belief that things were being done for the best, however strange and unfamiliar, and that the Holy Ghost was behind it all. We were told this from the pulpit day after day. You were almost a traitor to the cause if you didn’t accept it. That seems foolish and naive now, but it didn’t then. Times were different.

    Unfortunately the Emperor’s New Clothes were largely the result and it will take – is taking – decades to clear up the mess – and now with a much stronger Pope at the helm.

  15. Father K says:

    Please Pachomius, before making dogmatic statements or even dogmatic opinions, check your history – Napoleon: Vatican I ? Please be better informed before posting…I am equally surprised that no other commentator took issue with you wildly anachronictic historical citation…he died on the island of St Helena around 50 years before Vatican I

  16. prsuth33 says:

    Is anyone here familiar with “Paul VI Beatified”? It paints a very different picture of Pope Montini, let me tell you. Why was Archbishop Montini, trusted friend and secretary to Pius XII, sent to Milan in 1954? According to Fr. Villa it was due to the fact that he was engaging in secret talks with the communists dating all the way back to the early 1940’s. Pius XII made it known that no one within the Church was to engage the “enemy” in such a way and was devastated when he found out about the betrayal of one of his trusted confidantes. I thought this book was just another “conspiracy theory” of sorts. I mean, according to Fr. Villa, he himself was entrusted a mission by St Pio after a mysterious meeting of sorts in San Giovanni to investigate the influence of freemasonry within the Church, which according to Padre Pio had “even reached the pope’s slippers.” Then I came across a letter whereby Monsignor Roche admited that Montini was clandestinely meeting with communists. After that, I ready an article in which Alice von Hildebrand recommends Fr. Villa’s book. Hmmm.

  17. Centristian says:

    @Father K: “I am equally surprised that no other commentator took issue with you wildly anachronictic historical citation…”

    That’s probably because many of us are familiar enough with Pachomius’ posts to know that he’s a bright guy and most likely meant either Victor Emmanuel or Garibaldi but misspoke. Incidentally, you misspelled “anachronistic”.

  18. Ernesto Gonzalez says:

    Also, it is not anachronistic to mention Napoleon, because it was the capture of Napoleon III that basically decided the Franco-Prussian War in favor of Prussia. This caused the withdrawal of French protection of Rome, which lead to the Italian seizure of Rome, just two or three weeks after the capture of Napoleon, which led directly to the suspension of the council.

  19. “To this very day, the Pope seems very reluctant to say Mass completely in Latin (even if it were the New Order) more frequently than maybe once a year … and that is a big maybe.”

    Actually, having viewed every papal Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict in St. Peter’s Basilica recent years, he always says Mass there completely in Latin — the collect, super oblata, postcommunion, all the dialogues (Dominus vobiscum, etc), the Preface, the Eucharistic prayer, the final blessing — every word of every prayer of the Mass that the Pope himself says is in Latin. And the Introit and Ordinary of the Mass are sung by the choir in Latin, the Pater Noster always in Latin, etc. All this since Marini II replaced Marini I.

  20. dominic1955 says:

    I was just going to say that, he was refering to Napoleon III and the whole Franco-Prussian War issue that basically ended Vatican I! That’s why no one shot their mouth off before about not being better informed…

  21. oledocfarmer says:

    It is said that Pope Paul’s opinion on any subject was the same as the last person he’d spoken to about it. I can believe it.

  22. John Nolan says:

    I think it is wrong to think of Paul VI as being a pawn in the hands of liberals and modernists. It is fairly well known that John XXIII was dismayed at the way the Council was going, and he died without endorsing any one of its decrees. On the death of a pope any General Council is automatically dissolved, yet Paul made the decision to reconvene it and presumably thought he could exercise some control – Lumen Gentium was modified on his authority when a large minority of the bishops voted against it – and as far as the liturgy was concerned he was inconsistent, on the one hand accepting that the loss of Gregorian Chant was worthwhile in the interests of FCAP but a few years later issuing Jubilate Deo.

    His Ostpolitik was counter-productive and shameful, and he must shoulder the responsibility for it. He was the obvious candidate in 1958 although his lack of a red hat meant that he had to wait a further five years. But obvious candidates have a habit of turning out to be a disappointment (think of Eden succeeding Churchill in 1955).

  23. ProfKwasniewski says:

    The citation for this is:

    Address of October 29, 1964, to the Consilium.

    Cited in Douglas G. Bushman, “Pope Paul VI on the Renewal of Vatican II,” Nova et Vetera [English ed.], 9.2: 376.

  24. albizzi says:

    The book of Fr Villa is the truth.
    Paul VI was a two faced man like Janus. It is highly probable that his scandalous personal life made that he was blackmailed by the FM.
    This would explain why the Novus Ordo was implemented despite the fact that obvious proofs were given that Bugnini was himself a FM probably bcs the new liturgy was built according to the FM’s will.

  25. Weellll, I don’t know about this particular quote, but “Ecclesiam Suam” says similar things, and it’s by Paul VI.

    Interestingly, the English version of “Ecclesiam Suam” has paragraph numbering that’s two paragraphs off from the Italian version (at least by the time you get to paragraph 47/49, where the Italian talks about a tree’s seed, referring to Newman’s acorn). Maybe because they dug up the English version from some 1965 publication called “The Pope Speaks”, before the pope added a couple more paragraphs to the permanent version; maybe for some other reason.

    He seems to have often used a flowering tree, in his works, as an image of the Church. For example, at the July 2, 1969 General Audience: “Christianity is like a tree, always in the spring, always having new flowers, new fruits; she is a dynamic conception, she is a vitality inexhaustible, she is a beauty… Like a tree rooted securely and fertilized, she draws out her own springtime into herself, at every historical cycle.”

  26. Pachomius says:

    Fr. K is quite right to pick me up on this one. I meant (and should) have referred to Napoleon III. Mea culpa.

  27. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Okay really, what did Paul VI have in his personal life that he was blackmailed by the FM? To me this sounds as farfetched as the radical wackos on the internet suggesting that the real Paul VI was assainated and replaced by an actor during Vatican II.

  28. Fr. A.M. says:

    ProfKwasniewski ,

    Thank you so much for finding the source of this interesting quotation from Pope Paul VI. Here is the link to the Latin original, and below is the appropriate citation. I haven’t got time unfortunately to check the translation. One should look at the pope’s speech in its entirety :

    Recta denique Constitutionis Liturgicae executio postulat a vobis, ut nova et vetera apto pulcherrimoque nexu inter se componantur. Hac in re prorsus cavendum est, ne novitatis studium modum excedat, non satis habita aut omnino praetermissa traditi patrimonii liturgici ratione. Quae vitiosa agendi ratio non Sacrae Liturgiae renovatio, sed eversio potius appellanda esset. Liturgia enim robustae arboris similitudinem praefert, cuius pulcritudinem ostendit quidem continua frondium renovatio, sed cuius vitae ubertatem testatur trunci vetustas, qui in humum altas ac firmas radices agit. In rebus igitur liturgicis nulla vera repugnantia intercedere debet inter praesentem et praeteritas aetates; sed omnia ita fiant, ut quaelibet innovatio cohaerentiam et concordiam cum sana traditione prae se ferat, et novae formae e formis iam exstantibus quasi sua sponte efflorescant .

  29. Pachomius says:

    Young Canadian RC Male, that’s because it’s part of the usual set of conspiracy nonsense the comes out of some quarters. Not as good as some of the other theories, though – that Paul VI was a secret Jewish conspirator, that there were two Paul VIs (one was an actor), that his signature upside down spells out the Number of the Beast, and so on.

  30. albizzi says:

    Pachomius & Young Canadian,
    Paul VI was affected of a vice against nature. He was a homosexual.
    This isn’t a hearsay. Mrs Randy Engel (“The rite of sodomy”), Franco Bellegrandi (“NikitaRoncalli”) and Fr Villa himself (“Paul VI beatified?”) already spoke of this.
    In particular there are police report when he was archbp of Milan, he was allegedly picked up by the police for soliciting a male prostitute.
    The French writer Roger Peyrefitte (himself a notorious homosexual) revealed this in time and Bellegrandi (who was a nobleman of the pontifical court and lived in the Vatican) even reported the name of his lover, the actor Paul Carlini who appeared a s a barber in the film “Roman holiday”.
    Naive people cannot accept this fact, but if they were more learned, they would know that there were already homosexual popes in the past, other popes were adulterers, fornicators, even murderers.
    Why are you speaking of “conspiracy theories? Before dismissing Fr Villa’s book who is a good and courageous priest, pls read it and talk after.

  31. robtbrown says:

    Although I have heard the rumors, I know nothing about Paul VI’s private life. I do know, however, that he was a disaster as pope. I also know that Randy Engel is quite wrong in saying that Fr Villa’s book halted the beatification process of PVI. His cause was opened in May 1993, when I was still in studies in Rome. The next morning all over the Eternal City clerical eyes were rolled over coffee and panini. The reaction was like reading that Paris Hilton had been made a professor of mathematics at MIT. More importantly, within a week or so, two or three Cardinals showed up at the Cong of Saints to give testimony that Paul VI was a liar.

    Further, those from the Catholic countries controlled by the Soviet Union until 1989 (e.g., Poland and Hungary), have no use for Paul VI because they think he sold them out in order to make nice with the Soviets (the case of Cardinal Mindszenty is well known). No process could get by their objection.

  32. prsuth33 says:

    I read Fr. Villa’s book. I was a bit skeptical. I did research on the priest who is now in his 90s; he appears to be a true soldier for Christ and His Church. He’s had several attempts on his life due to the nature of his ministry–exposing freemasons and communists within–but he remains undaunted in his task.

    Recently I read “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber”. I know a priest within the Fraternity of St. Peter who said it is very accurate. For all those who believe that what has happened to the Church lo these many decades since the council was just bad interpretation of the documents, I say read the book. I found it very disturbing. There was a calculated and concerted effort to undermine the Church from within that started from the beginning. For those who believe that Pope John XXIII had regrets about calling the council, I say read the book. What he said on his deathbed spoke of everything but regret.

    “Russia will spread her errors…” Indeed, she has.

  33. Consilio et Impetu says:

    “What must be avoided at all costs in this matter is that eagerness for the “new” exceed due measure, resulting in insufficient regard for, or entirely disregarding, the patrimony of the liturgy handed on.”

    The “eagerness” PP VI spoke of is so true and, sadly, continues to this day. I believe the “patrimony” send a chill up the spines of some who want to assure that the liturgy has patriarchal and matriarchal elements. e.g., A nun among the priests washing the feet of the entire congregation during the mandatum. (She insisted she be allowed to do it.) It literally made me sick to my stomach and I had to leave. The bishops need to put their foot down (and in some cases up) to put an end to these atrocities. If that means having liturgical and rubric police, so be it.

  34. Pachomius says:

    “the nature of his ministry–exposing freemasons and communists within”
    Grade-A nutcase, then.

    To those of you defending this sort of specious, gossipy rubbish on the grounds that people have written books on the subject, I would say this: nolite credere quidquid legitis.

    And no, I don’t need to have read the book to be able to dismiss it. I can know quite well, for example, that The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail is a load of tosh without settling down with it for 6 months every bedtime. Fr Villa et al are simply the internal analogues of this kind of combination of weak scholarship, supposition-hearsay-and-invention scandal-mongering. I’ve seen enough of this sort of stuff around on enough subjects to know rubbish when I spot it.

  35. albizzi says:

    There are no deafer people than those who are refusing to listen because the truth hurts their ears.
    If only one per cent of what is written in Fr Villa’s books was false, why his hierarchy never disciplined him?
    Because Fr Villa owns official letters by the Vatican (in the times of Pius XII) of the mission he was entrusted to fight the FM. These letters never were cancelled. Nobody can strike this man and prevent him saying what he knows, even death threats (he was assaulted several times).

  36. robtbrown says:

    The Rhine Flows into the Tiber is non controversial–it is merely the contemporary reporting of Vat II by a priest journalist. The title merely reflects the influence of Northern European thought (cf Protestantism) on the Council.

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